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Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving of another kind as a reformed drug dealer reflects on conversion

I am exceedingly thankful to be alive!  I have to admit that the grace of God is responsible for my life.

As often happens, when I looked at my visitor map this morning there had been visitors to this blog from every continent on the planet (other than Antarctica) over the last three days.  I have great admiration for the Europeans and Asians and Africans and South/Central/North Americans (and maybe a few in the British Isles and the land of Oz and Kiwi who would say that I speak American) whose mother tongue is NOT English and yet manage to read and perhaps even comment on my blog.  Visitors are certainly welcome and commenters are often but not always answered, depending upon the relevance and civility of their comments.  Rude comments are allowed but I will delete any foul language that is detected.  So far that only happens about once a year and perhaps less.   That is a good trend!

Blog sharks and their companions

My wife and I were having a discussion about the commenters, most of whom choose to remain anonymous when they disagree with me.   Those who agree usually give some kind of identification.   I do have some traditional worldview "foes" such as Woolf and Canucklehead who identify themselves so this is a general statement that is not comprehensive in scope.   I suggested that my blog was like a shark and the commenters like pilot fish who exist in symbiosis with the shark, plucking parasites from its hide and occasionally cleaning its teeth.   She replied that antagonistic commenters were more like remoras, attaching themselves and depending entirely upon the shark for direction and scraps of food.   We had a laugh, but in fact commenters are actually more like pilot fish because they may hang around and go where the blog goes but they all have their own individual choice to follow or go in tandem or at any point to break off and go alone or in search of another shark or manta ray or other larger sea creature. 

My pilot fish do pick at my hide but they do so to try to change my direction or annoy.  In so doing they provide a forum for debate and no doubt a few Darwinists have honed their anti-God anti Creationist skills here before moving on.  Some have commented off and on for years and some, like Hawkeye and Highboy and Angel and Amy Proctor are buddies who usually agree with me and occasionally start their own dialogues with other commenters in the comments thread.  In fact some of my readers are blog sharks themselves and some of them are bigger sharks than me who occasionally come alongside and say hello before heading off in their own direction again.

Today is slow at work for most of the world not involved in Christmas shopping is taking the day off, including schools and many of the administrators of networks I would normally deal with so while awaiting email replies and phone calls, I blog on.   I am grateful to be alive and to have a wonderful family.   Four times I was involved in life-threatening accidents and twice I have survived attempted murder and, as a result,  I live in constant pain and take medications that would make most people quite groggy and inarticulate.   Think it not strange that I may have been a target for murder, as there was a time in my non-Christian early days that I was a drug dealer aligned with a biker gang and for a time hung out with felons and thieves and thugs.  I was also targeted for murder by a treacherous woman-beater who was afraid to face me when I defended a woman he had abused.  I was once a strange mixture, a basically nice guy hanging out with a rough crowd just focused on wine, women and song and drugs of various types and not giving much thought to the character of the men and women with whom I was "running."  I was a big dog in a pack of savage wolves, unaware that I was not exactly a wolf myself.

Strange waters

Something recently reminded me of my stay in one area where my best friend was a combination of Robert Redford, Don Quixote and Bruce Lee.  He was a tad shorter than me and we both weighed about 165 pounds.  I could beat him in basketball or swimming or tennis and etc.  When we lifted weights we both could do about the same other than the bench press, where 225 pounds ten times was enough for me but he could exceed that easily.  But even though I had done quite a bit of self-defense and offensive training with Taekwando and boxing, this guy was astounding.  He was working part-time as a bouncer for a nightclub and also full time in the Army as a clerk.   He would take on three big thugs and have them all laying on the ground in pain in about 40 seconds and so his small stature soon came with a big reputation and regulars at the club knew to not mess with Rick.   The prettiest girls all chased him rather than the other way around.  I met a lot of pretty girls just because I was his "wingman" so to speak, although the term had not yet been coined in that context.  We were just best friends.  It was after we parted ways and I moved to Texas that I found myself amongst the gangster population and, worse yet, became hooked on the drugs I was dealing.

Fast-forward to a few months of being a needle user and living a "Needle and the Damage Done" life.  I went cold turkey, turning myself in to a facility to dry out and get off the stuff.   Hard times.  I got away from the drug gang but soon turned to just more drinking and more pot-smoking and began to become the same person all over again.   I was one of the more literate potheads in the population and certainly well-spoken for a drunk but a life of continual substance abuse would have eventually cast me into prison or the grave had God not intervened.  Jesus Christ did not simply save me from my sins, He also completely changed my life!  No one who knows me now personally can easily conceive of me as a prodigal wastrel outlaw dabbling in witchcraft and curses and doing virtually any drug known to frequent the streets and having no qualms having multiple "girlfriends" at one time as long as one did not know about the other.   I had been the kind of man I would have warned my kids to stay far away from and there are those in my past who could not conceive of me being a pastor or an executive or sitting on a board of directors of a charitable institution or holding an office down or any of the other things I have done subsequent to my conversion.   Once I was a soldier who took LSD before going to work at the Pentagon one day just to see if I could get away with it.  Once I was a gangster who knew more bikers and their old ladies than I did "normal" people.   Once I was a Lothario who would say anything to convince a pretty girl to accompany me.  All these are memories of a departed life.

The slings and arrows

With the weather change, my left shoulder thrice-operated on, my nerve damaged back and right leg and foot and my oft-strained and sprained knees and once-broken ankle ache and moan more than normal.   Auto accidents and factory accidents added to years of athletics and years of sinful living now add up to the fact that if I am awake, I am in pain and if I am asleep the pain hinders my rest.  Rehabilitation and strict diets and multiple pills are part of my daily routine now.   Some days depression attempts to take me down but then I get my focus off of self and onto God and onto others and it passes on.

My wonderful wife and children and grandchildren and "Godchildren" and sister's family and friends are all Christians in part because a merciful God would not give up on a wayward, selfish, egotistical agnostic child even after he'd become a man and was seemingly set in stone as a self-centered party animal rock and roller on the highway to hell.  In my wife's case, a once party animal herself, salvation came to her a bit earlier and she has less of a sinful background but we can both clearly see the difference between where we were and where we are now.

Once I was a flood of stormy sinful water rushing downstream to my doom.   God turned me and my wife and friend and soulmate into a united rock that stands against the flow and has been building a dam of faith against the tide of worldly sinful ways, a dam that has provided a lake of peace and truth for our family and friends and the young people who will listen, for my wife and my oldest son also work in the youth ministry with me, teaching teenagers to think critically and examine their hearts and their heads and their faith.

All these wounds, all these memories, all these misadventures were like heat-treating and tempering steel so that I could withstand all the fury of the forces of evil that hate God and hate Truth and uphold selfishness as an ideal.  There is no commenter who can hurt my feelings with derision and mocking, that is nothing compared to what I have seen and survived.   Those who mean to hurt my feelings simply make themselves look a bit petty.   Commenters who think they will hurt my feelings are wasting ammunition.   The only way to make any headway as a commenter on this blog is to ask intelligent questions and provide intelligent answers.  If you barf out a string of questions at once I will probably just ignore them all.   But a reasoned debate is worth having.  

Shaking a spear

So in summation, commenters, I am a tough old bird aka a Rooster Cogburn, a man who is not impressed with childish taunts and is bored by repetitive illogical statements.   Bring your best to the comments thread and you may become part of a blog post (or bring your worst and you may become part of a blog post, too, albeit as a laughable example).   I applaud anyone who can logically defend a viewpoint but if you do not even understand that you are beginning with a point of view then you are incapable of learning anything new.   Both the Bible and Shakespeare teach us to know ourselves and to ourselves be true. 

I am willing to continue to keep posting new information and tune up old arguments and a wise commenter will be recognized.   If you comment and I ignore you that is of course my choice, it is my blog, and I do not erase what you say just because you disagree with me.  But some of you just repost the exact same thing every three or four or five weeks in derision, boilerplate complaints devoid of evidence that are "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."   Do you have something intelligent to say and evidence to back it up.  Then I say, "Cry 'havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war!"   (From Macbeth and Julius Caesar, respectively)


I will give God the last word, from Psalms 75:

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.
 1 We praise you, God,
   we praise you, for your Name is near;
   people tell of your wonderful deeds. 

 2 You say, “I choose the appointed time;
   it is I who judge with equity.

3 When the earth and all its people quake,
   it is I who hold its pillars firm.[b]

4 To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
   and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.[c]

5 Do not lift your horns against heaven;
   do not speak so defiantly.’” 

 6 No one from the east or the west
   or from the desert can exalt themselves.

7 It is God who judges:
   He brings one down, he exalts another.

8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup
   full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
   drink it down to its very dregs. 

 9 As for me, I will declare this forever;
   I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,

10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
   but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.” 

Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 75:1 In Hebrew texts 75:1-10 is numbered 75:2-11.
  2. Psalm 75:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
  3. Psalm 75:4 Horns here symbolize strength; also in verses 5 and 10.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope you won't accuse "Darwinists" of shrinking from debate any time soon. When will you stop running away from discussion? What are you scared of?

radar said...

Darwinists run away from the debate regularly. For instance, no one ever answers the information question.

What is the natural source for information?

Also, what is the First Cause of the Universe?

Also, what is the natural cause for life?

My worldview has answers to these three questions and so then upon this all science can be built, just as Maxwell and Newton and Kelvin did. Meanwhile, Darwinists have to ignore basic laws of science to begin to offer up their hypothesis. I see no good reason to discuss lower order questions when you Darwinists have left the foundational questions unanswered and the basic scientific clues ignored.

radar said...

As to scared, I've faced down a .45 caliber revolver and shotguns and been surrounded by both Latin Kings and Disciples gang members (not at the same time) and I was once targeted for elimination by an organization that is hopefully defunct based in TexMex country. (Although by now, statutes of limitations being what they are anyone of those guys still alive would no longer care about anything I used to know and probably forgot by now anyway). I've been infected and colonized by MRSA and fought that off as well. What words will frighten me, seriously? Scared of words? Scared of ideas? Try another tactic...I'll post something new for you to chew on shortly.

Anonymous said...

Darwinists run away from the debate regularly. For instance, no one ever answers the information question.

What is the natural source for information?
I don't know.

Also, what is the First Cause of the Universe? I don't know. Was there a "First Cause"?

Also, what is the natural cause for life? I don't know.

But, am I a "darwinist"? I'm not quite sure what that means. I believe in evolution. I am agnostic. I believe the earth very old. I believe evolution occurred. I believe the evidence and the science all point to these things quite clearly. What happened in the "beginning"? I don't know. You don't either. Hopefully we can figure it out and there are people much smarter than you or I trying to. But we may never be able to answer the questions you posed above...and just because there is a gap in our knowledge, it doesn't mean we should by default fill that gap with god.

Interesting read, this post was radar. Was there an actual moment you can point to when you started believing in Jesus?

lava

Anonymous said...

"What words will frighten me, seriously? Scared of words? Scared of ideas?"

Scared of ideas that challenge something that saved you from all of the above? Certainly plausible.

You went through a tremendous conversion in your life. You credit the Christian faith for that. And in particular you subscribe to a certain literal interpretation of scripture.

It's not that hard to conjecture that if you found this interpretation to be wrong, you just might conclude that the Christian faith is wrong about other things (though plenty of Christians don't come to that conclusion), and you'd fall back into the moral abyss that you were in previously.

No one here would fault you for finding that scarier than facing violent thugs.

But all of that is idle speculation. Whether it's fear, pride or something else, fact of the matter is that you evade open debate, both by misrepresenting opposing views (a.k.a. strawman arguments) and by evading questions and evidence that contradicts your views. That part is clear and undeniable and in full view of anyone who reads just a few of the posts on your blog.

radar said...

The so-called answer to the source of information is:

"Reproduction with variation plus natural selection."

Sorry, that gets an "F." We know reproduction happens but information is required to reproduce and variation is choices between information and natural selection is a description of the operation of the cell choosing the genetic information it has available. This does not even approach being an answer.

I am not evading this, you are. That so-called answer is silly. How do automobiles transfer gasoline into power that moves them? Somebody builds them. Nope, not an answer.

I am not afraid of losing my faith. Sorry.

Lava, I was converted on March 13, 1978. I knew Jesus was a historical character but I did not put faith in what He did until a pastor came into my living room and we had a long dialogue about the Bible and what Jesus did on the cross. I had an extensive background studying all sorts of religions and nothing satisfied me at all. Suddenly it all made sense and I realized that I could have faith in God. I immediately chose to accept that sacrifice made on my behalf and I immediately knew something was changing on the inside in me.

Guess I should post the details and no doubt several "anonymous" commenters will rag on me for it but that, lava, is a quick summary. In one day came understanding-belief-faith-change on the inside.

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, that gets an "F."

Easy for you to say.

Not so easy to back up though.

"We know reproduction happens"

Yep, plenty of observation to support that.

Also that reproduction happens with variation. Also supported by observation.

"but information is required to reproduce and"

Are you sidestepping the fact that information can also be created by reproduction with variation coupled with natural selection? Seems to me that's the part you constantly want to draw attention away from by running over to the abiogenesis question.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there's a pattern here. You quickly run away from discussing the theory of evolution to talk about abiogenesis instead, perhaps because science is not as advanced in this field as it is in evolution.

Much as you're stuck in your black and white world, it's not all about your fundamentalism (God did everything and the world is 6K years old) vs. some version of atheism (God did nothing and the world is billions of years old). You can look at different areas on their own.

For example, when you look at meteorology, do you dismiss any and all scientific knowledge related to it until somebody comes up with a satisfactory explanation for the origin of water. I kind of doubt it.

By trying to attack, say, abiogenesis to score points against the theory of evolution, you gain exactly nothing. If you want to attack the theory of evolution, you'll have to do nothing else than to provide evidence against the theory of evolution. Smarter men than you have tried and failed at that.

See, the theory of evolution does not depend on whether abiogenesis took place naturally or by divine hand. Abiogenesis is an interesting question, but it's a different question. You can look at organisms today, and via reproduction w. variation plus natural selection they can generate new information.

That right there may be part of your confusion. You're not accounting for gradual increases in information and instead just see the wealth of information in DNA and think it must all have come about at once.

No wonder design would seem so obvious in that case.

Anonymous said...

"variation is choices between information"

It can also be information plus random mutation to that information.

Your claim that any new species only makes use of information that already existed is not supported by any scientific observation. It's wishful thinking.

At the same time, it's an interesting problem for creationists, since it would be evidence in favor of creationism. So how about it, creationists?

Anonymous said...

Radar says, above.

"I am not afraid of losing my faith. Sorry."

No, I'm sorry man, you're just not being honest with yourself here. Can you really say that you wouldn't be scared if your faith was somehow stripped away from you?

You may not be consciously worried about it, but the prospect of you losing your faith would certainly be a very frightening one for you. Everything in your life is based on your faith. You may not understand it, but it is definitely fear that drives you to repeat fallacy after fallacy on this blog. It's what allows you to ignore and dismiss any and all evidence that contradicts your world view. If you were to "see the light" so to speak, just think about all the time you would have wasted on this blog alone. I mean at the very least, think about how depressing that is, er, um, would be.

I mean, just as one example, how many times has it been pointed out to you that abiogenesis had ZERO to do with the theory of evolution? Why else would the catholic church approve of the theory? You are simply too afraid to drop that line of argument, despite the fact that it is completely fallacious. Because losing it would amount to the weakening of your position in your mind. And that might lead to further weakening, and so on, and so on... until you are left with "nothing".

And seriously Radar, if it's not fear, then you don't have any excuse for your behavior on this blog. I prefer to think you are just a regular religious guy strongly driven by fear, as opposed to just some jerk that lies all the time just to be a jerk.

- Canucklehead.

radar said...

Canucklehead, the so-called fallacies that are presented to me on this blog are simply myths that I work to explode by presenting evidence. That you think I am a jerk because I disagree with you, well, that is a personal issue. However, commenters have failed to identify a means of adding information into the genome by natural causes, have failed to identify a natural source of information and also if you are willing to let God create the first life, why bother with all the evolution nonsense and simply deal with variation within kind, which is what actually happens?

A complete worldview covers soup-to-nuts origins to today matter, life, intelligence, information, all of it.

My faith is not in doubt at all. I do not post this blog to bulwark my faith. Evidence is not frightening to me. No Darwinists have ever put forward anything of substance to cause me to abandon the laws of biogenesis and thermodynamics even if they, for religious reasons alone, have done so.

radar said...

It was the scientific establishment that would not yield on geocentricism for well over one hundred years. The paradigm can be wrong.

DNA is a coding mechanism found everywhere. There is no evidence for any other pre-DNA coding and information system. There is no evidence for an RNA world. There is massive evidence against such things.

I am going to keep posting new evidence and you Darwinists will keep complaining about it but until you can actually find evidence instead of hypotheses then you will continue to fail to meet the requirements. Meanwhile the world is slowing turning away from your viewpoint. As it should.

Anonymous said...

Don't have time to go through your response line-by-line, Radar (and you have buried this post anyway) but I will say this, WOW. The psychological projection put forward by you at-this-point is comically tragic. You, ACTUALLY say above,

"No Darwinists have ever put forward anything of substance to cause me to abandon the laws of biogenesis and thermodynamics even if they, for religious reasons alone, have done so."

Do you even remember that you have told us repeatedly that your own religious beliefs (namely a literal translation of the bible) will always trump science? At least you have all those straw men on your side of the argument to keep you company. Simply repeating the same drivel that has been proven to be incorrect (i.e. your "biogenesis as law" garbage and your childishly uninformed position on LOT), just makes you look like a nut, well let's just say that it makes you look even nuttIER. Remember when Dr. J tried to pull that crap? Tell me Radar, "Are you ignorant, a mercenary, or hallucinating?". LOL.

You are better than this Radar, at least I hope you are.

- Canucklehead.